I fell in love with Turkey 3 years ago when I was in Istanbul for 2 weeks, but this exchange it was deeper love. I would never regret the choice of this “dangerous“ country, absolutely not in Izmir! It is not easy to compare to European lifestyle but to me it’s been just more spirited and therefore so vital summer. Culture is so friendly and open minded that it is easy to feel welcome.
We came to our destination on July 30, me, my boyfriend and my classmate. The journey was very short and quite cheap as well, it took just 5 hours together with transfer in Istanbul and because we flew from Kosice it cost only 150€ both-way.
Accommodation, it was a little shock 😀 We lived separately, girls and boys, one hour away by transport. Our place was university campus and we have been set in the cheapest one building, rooms for 4, lot of dogs and cats around and security staff with so many rules eg. no alcohol and guns, prohibitions about coming and exit the areal, like at some “prison”. The big problem was the staff did not speak English at all, not funny at first, but after we adapted it was our advantage, though they used translator it was really complicated for them to talk to us..thus we both just smile to each other, greeted in Turkish and ignored some of their rules. As I say” nothing can´t be perfect”.
In hospital I was at department of General Surgery, but I participated in different kinds of surgery operations every day, such as cardiovascular, orthopedic, gynecologic, ophthalmic, plastic..I was not only observating, so many times I assisted. Even I cut patients and did my first stitches, yes , all of it was amazing ! We used to start at 9:00 am till the time we wanted to stay, staff gave us everyday clean clothes, doctors greeted and talked to us every time. They could speak English well, compare to many people in Turkey who did not. While we were talking together between operations they often paid coffee for us. I felt like a part of a big team and everything there looked like when u are watching House. And air-conditioning was everywhere..During weekdays we had lunch at hospital canteen with average Turkish meal which has been pretty fine.
Traveling seemed to be another problem, we had to pay it on our own, it cost us circa 100€ per month plus money for trips outside Izmir. From my place it was 15 min to reach subway station going everywhere in town, depends where 10-30 min, to hospital 50 min in all. Perfect benefit of Izmir was that we could go everyday to beach, it took just 30 min by bus from hospital, so our common wares to hospital were not only white coats but swimsuit too.
Almost every day we went to the city to take a dinner, we always eat some of their local food, I really tasted these meals. It was cheaper or equally price as at home. Later we sat on the grass at the seaside, take a bottle of beer and sunflower seeds. We have been chatting, got to know each other better and waiting for sunset.. I liked these evenings so much. Other days after hospital we went to explore the city, I mean we had pleasurable social program, we organized a lot of interesting events with our coordinators together. I also loved to go to the markets nearby, which were crowded with local sellers and people, looking for cheap and nice clothes, food and drinks. I enjoyed good Turkish music and nights in clubs where we danced but alcohol was overpriced. Some of the best parts of my time in Turkey were the holidays and the trips. Weekends we planned by ourselves or we had national tours for whole country. We still discovered others beaches near Izmir, visited beautiful places like Pamukale, Ephesus, Antalya..
The close combination of Exchange and exploration of a country and its culture on an everyday basis truly made the time I spent in Turkey one of the most fascinating month for me yet. I can only encourage everyone else to leave their own comfort zone and go abroad.